THE PEOPLES FORUM
Our vision is to increase participation in the election process, especially on the part of citizen candidates. There are many facets to this vision, a very important one being to make the process more accessible to inexperienced candidates. A huge stumbling block to uninitiated candidates is the so called candidate forum as it is conducted in Clallam and Jefferson Counites. The dictionary definition of forum includes the concept of "open discussion or expression of ideas" as opposed to the term debate which entails a "contention by words or arguments".
With COVID restrictions public forums have taken a turn to bypassing the people in favor of putting on a good exhibition. Questions taken in advance, well before the event are filtered and condensed by a Moderator who dumbs them down into as simple a format as possible.
Forums should be about the people and candidates, not moderators and sponsoring organizations.
The public has a need to know the ideas that a new candidate brings to the table. No public service is achieved subjecting that candidate's ideas to contention by word or argument. Most candidate forums sponsored by various groups exhibit the following deficiencies:
1 They are under the control of a Moderator having too much say over the questions being asked of the candidates. Moderators may claim to be neutral but too often they color the nature of questions asked and answers allowed.
2 Candidates are given insufficient time to answer the posed question. In addition, the practice of time-limiting candidate responses introduces another "gatekeeper' into the mix. There are several ways a Timekeeper can put his or her thumb on the scale. As in the Moderator, we are asked to trust the Timekeeper.
3 Many forums are restricted to membership in a particular club or organization and/or prohibitions are placed on press participation or independent taping.
We in the 101 Independents United believe that the public would be best served by going back to the original concept of the true definition and spirit of forum. We seek to serve both the public's need to know and the candidate's responsibility to make known her/his policy proposals and agenda without contention by words or arguments. A forum serves that simple purpose and that of the hosting organization and without risking the candidate's "death valley":
1 No Moderator or Timekeeper. Our forums are run by a traffic director whose sole duty is to keep the conversation flowing, not to mandate content. The only limiting of discussion on the part of the traffic director is to prevent filibusters.
2 Direct interaction between candidates and the audience. Audience members are invited to ask questions. Candidates are invited to answer them as they so desire. Audience members are invited to follow up candidate responses.
3 Adequate time to answer. - We impose no time limits other than to intervene in the case of an obvious filibuster. Candidates and audience members need to be aware that excess time spent in answering one question limits the time available for other questions